Toshiba Confirms Blu-ray Notebook PCs And Players Coming This Year

We already knew as much, but today Toshiba has made it extra official: it's joining the Blu-ray camp. For those unaware (yes, all six of you), Toshiba was far and away HD DVD's largest supporter during the format's boom years. After a long, hard-fought battle with Blu-ray that spanned nearly 24 months, HD DVD finally folded after too many studios devoted their attention (and future releases) to the Blu-ray Disc format. Many still wonder why HD DVD fell and Blu-ray won, and even today the Blu-ray adoption level is exceedingly low for a next-generation format. HD DVD was always the cheaper option, and while its disc held less information (30GB compared to Blu-ray Disc's 50GB), it was first with online-based interactive content. Today, Blu-ray is still struggling to get anyone to really pay attention to BD-Live, it's version of that very feature.

At any rate, we always knew that resistance was futile for Toshiba, and frankly, bad for business. No profits are gained by sitting out on the sidelines pouting, and we figured that the company would only briefly sit idly by as Sony, Onkyo, Pioneer and others raked in millions on the lone remaining HD movie format. Today, Toshiba has affirmed earlier reports from Japan that is indeed interested in making peace with the Blu side and delving into the wide, thriving world of Blu-ray. In a brief press release pushed out this morning, Toshiba Corp. proclaimed that it had applied for membership in the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), which is the main governing body surrounding the promotion and standardization of the format. Potentially more important was Toshiba's assertion that it was now planning to introduce an undisclosed amount of products that support the Blu-ray format.

Older Toshiba HD DVD deck, a thing of the past

Toshiba currently sells a wide range of gizmos. From notebook PCs to HDTVs to DVD players, the company can do most anything. Thus, there's certainly potential for Toshiba to integrate Blu-ray into a vast majority of its gear. Just think, it may not be long before we see HDTVs with built-in Blu-ray players, particularly when you consider that Sharp is currently the only outfit doing it. The timing of this also couldn't be better. With the holiday shopping season just around the bend, Blu-ray desperately needs another heavy-hitting competitor in the ring. Prices for standalone players are still far out of reach for most (especially in a down economy where luxuries are being eyed carefully), and the only way those prices will ever drift downward at more than a glacial pace is if another mega company steps in to force the hands of others.

Toshiba wasn't shy in selling its own HD DVD players for low, low prices. So, we're cautiously optimistic that its Blu-ray players will also be within the realm of "affordability." The company isn't yet saying what products exactly it plans to launch, and it's not saying exactly when or where they'll be released. All we know is that it hopes to integrate Blu-ray drives into its notebook PC lineup and to product standalone Blu-ray decks for home theaters "in the course of this year." The company's full statement is posted below.

Toshiba Corporation announced today that the company has applied for membership of the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) and plans to introduce products that support the Blu-ray format.

As a market leader in digital technologies, Toshiba provides a wide range of advanced digital products, such as DVD recorders and players, HDTVs and notebook PCs that support a wide range of storage devices, including hard disk drives (HDD), DVD, and SD Cards. In light of recent growth in digital devices supporting the Blu-ray format, combined with market demand from consumers and retailers alike, Toshiba has decided to join the BDA.

Toshiba aims to introduce digital products that support the Blu-ray format, including BD players and notebook PCs integrating BD drives, in the course of this year. Details of the products, including the timing of regional launches, are now under consideration. We will make announcements in due course.